From the Record Shelves #143

My Melancholy Baby

LP The Old Masters TOM-14

This was something new when I found and bought it around 1970. The record itself was green and there were no details about the personnel and no text to read on the sleeve. You had to have the Brian Rust two volumes of Jazz Records 1897-1942 which I had. I typed all the detail and glued them to the record because this you must have when you listen. How can you otherwise know or have confirmation about things like “Hank Stern-tuba replaces Tarto”? And it’s important also to learn to hear the difference between singer Scrappy Lambert, Smith Ballew and Seger Ellis. Ballew is my favorite of the three, but on this tune I think that Ellis does a fairly good job.

The music is well arranged, well played and with nice melodies throughout. The brass is dominating over the saxophones.
Is it jazz? More or less, and on this track it’s more. When Adrian Rollini was back in New York from London for one month in the spring of 1928 to see his father that was ill, the Dorsey Brothers were eager to get him on a recording date. And then naturally they wanted to show off their jazz talent.

After a well arranged intro they go, improvising on the melody, first Tommy on trombone, then Jimmy on clarinet. After eight bars of “tutti”, Tommy takes his trumpet and displays a rough hot style, a contrast to his elegant trombone playing. He shares the long 32 bar verse with Rollini on bass sax and when the band enters in the last bars Tommy is there again, this time on trombone to do some fill-ins.

After the vocal, during which Jimmy is busy with his clarinet behind, there is an interlude. Then the brass in a swinging variation of the melody shares the chorus with Tommy taking back his trumpet, Rollini on bass sax and Jimmy on alto. Guitarist Carl Kress does the breaks at the end and Jimmy and Rollini ends this great performance.